Laptop recommendation needed.

I am looking for a replacement laptop. Main requirements:

  • Fast processor and enough RAM to run Photoshop
  • Good, non-reflective screen
  • 15″ or 15.6″ screen size to fit my carry-on bag

Secondary requirements

  • Relatively large hard drive
  • Good battery life
  • Windows 7 rather than 8

I checked Dell web site, found something close for nearly $3K. Any other alternatives I should check, either for better configuration or for lower price?

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15 Responses to Laptop recommendation needed.

  1. "lee n. field" says:

    Quick hint: If you have windows 8 Pro, you have “downgrade rights” to win 7. And business line computers can be had easily with 7 pre-installed.

  2. Eugene V says:

    Since the big brands (Dell, HP, etc) don’t make their own hardware, you’ll get bigger bang for your buck is you go straight to the original device manufacturers like Asus or MSI.
    Dell Precision Mobile Workstations are top notch (using a 6 year old one right now and still loving it), but Dell XPS series also give good performance for a lower price.
    You may want to check out this article:

    For most laptops, the hardware is very similar. Brand specific price differences are mostly related to the level of warranty/support they include. Just do yourself a favor and make sure to purchase one with a solid state hard drive.
    I feel like recommending laptops is like recommending cars or guns. Can’t really give a single “best choice” recommendation, but can point in the general direction.
    Hope his helps.

    P.S. Love your work.
    (I’m from Leningrad myself, got out in ’87)

  3. Daniel O'Brien (@DanielObrien42) says:

    Wait for Windows 10. It’s like Windows 7 not 8.1.

  4. Nathaniel Michaels says:

    I would just buy a newer used Macbook Pro, decent ones can be had for around $1k, they have amazing displays, and the hard drives can be upgraded very easily.

    Then just install Windows 7.

  5. Scott says:

    Do a T series thinkpad, whichever screen size you prefer. Custom configure to discrete graphics, HD screen, 16gb ram, and the cheapest i7. Get a ssd for the boot drive, a caddy to replace the optical drive with a hard drive (put in a 1tb for media), and a 9 cell battery. Ought to run whatever you want, last about 6 hours on a charge while actually using it, and end up costing you about 2k. Plus thinkpads are pretty durable.

  6. eriko says:

    Along the lines of what Eugene said go oem. It is odd that I am recommending laptop that ships with linux but you can reload that with a clean copy of windows and without any of the crapware that comes on most computers.
    i5 and i7 processors
    matte or gloss screen
    up to 16 gig of ram
    space for two harddrives 250 gig mSATA solid state + a slower 2 gig spining disk
    and even with a dvd drive with two harddrives installed.

    Below is what I have except for the msata drive as I was cheap last year.
    Base Price $799.00
    Ubuntu 15.04 (64-bit)
    15.6″ Matte 1080p LED Backlit Display $59.00
    Intel HD 4600 Graphics
    2.50 GHz i7-4710MQ (6MB Cache – 4 Cores – 8 Threads) $50 off! $49.00
    16 GB Dual Channel DDR3 at 1600MHz (2× 8GB) $175.00
    United States Keyboard
    250 GB mSATA Solid State Drive $139.00
    2 TB 2.5″ 5400 RPM Drive $179.00
    WiFi up to 433 Mbps + Bluetooth
    1 Year Limited Parts and Labor Warranty

    Normal Assembly Service Product total: $1,400.00

  7. Martin Q says:

    I use the Mac Pro with Retina display. I use both OS X and Windows 8.1 and 7. This is a high quality computer and quite reliable.

  8. oooorgle says:

    Buy used. These things are like cars.

  9. Nik says:

    The Dell XPS1210 I bought in 2007 for nursing school and photo editing still runs at the present time — though a bit more slowly, as Vista is showing its age. I would second the recommendation to look at XPS systems — both of my last two laptops came from the refurbished department at Dell. For that matter the older XPS M140 I bought early in 2006, specifically for work as a newspaper photographer, still boots up.

    All that said, I made the switch to Apple last year, and find that I spend far less time updating computers and far more time just using them — so I’d also second the recommendation to look at a 15″ Macbook Pro with the retina display. Given the need to edit images, I’d opt for the more expensive model, as it offers a dedicated graphics card.

    Good luck — and do mention what you ended up with, and how it worked out for you.

  10. Bob McPeak says:

    If you do go with Dell, DO NOT perform any of their recommended BIOS updates. Even with it being their recommendation, and following their instructions to the letter, it will fry your BIOS chip, and Dell will NOT stand behind the product, leaving you hanging with a very expensive paperweight.

  11. Jeff says:

    Did you look at this one: Dell Precision M3800

    Just over $2200 list as configured in the blurb and eye popping graphics specs. It’s also fairly light at just a bit over 4 lbs and has a Thunderbolt port. Also beats the Apple offerings rather handily in display, pixel depth, etc. Can be ordered with lots of options, including Win 7 Pro.

  12. Hurf says:

    Listen, the best of the line right now is the XPS 13.

    Starts for under 1k. Add whatever you want until you’re happy and don’t want to spend more. I know it’s not the size screen you wanted, but it’s perfectly fine. I’d suggest getting the touchscreen, although that upgrade costs big bucks. Touch on a laptop is much more convenient than you probably believe. I won’t ever go back.

    Don’t be a pussy about 8. It’s a waste of time and money trying to get 7 on the machine. Windows 10 is right around the corner and brings back most of the desktop features people complained about 8 lacking.

    Also, make sure you have an SSD for the primary disk. They’re cheap now and the speed boost is absolutely required. Don’t waste your money getting a lot of SSD disk. You should be using external drives for image storage anyhow.

    I write code for a living, and this would be my laptop if my last SSD upgrade to my current didn’t make it worth keeping.

  13. Alan says:

    Dell Precisions are nice solid machines if you want to keep the weight down. They also have a docking port that will let you use it like a desktop at home/work.

    The Asus RoG gaming laptops have been a huge hit with my customers. They are more like portable desktops than laptops and tend to be a heavier but have top end video cards and CPUs, lots of RAM and many models have two hard drive bays for RAID mirroring or hybrid disk access with spinning metal and SSD cache or just twice the disk space. Matte screens are the standard and Win 7 is available (or get 8.1 *Pro* and downgrade for free yourself.) Prices are very resonable for the hardware they’re packing.

    As much as I prefer the 7 interface, unless you have software with an 8.1 compatibility issue, you are better off with 8.1, especially on a laptop, it is faster, easier on batteries and will enjoy a longer support life.

  14. Will says:

    You might want to check this post by Chris, before making a decision:

  15. ProdigalSon says:

    I just got a new HP 850 EliteBook from work, and it’s got enough guts to run SolidWorks with assemblies that have upwards of 10,000 individual parts. My boss has been running the same hardware for a while doing fluid flow simulations, which are even more power-hungry. It’s ~$1700, but I’m certain it’s up to the task. It does, however, have an integrated video card, rather than a fast dedicated card. That really shouldn’t be a problem, but I’m not a Photoshop expert.

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